Liberman: We don’t want war but will respond to every rocket
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Liberman: We don’t want war but will respond to every rocket

In message to Hamas, defense minister says Islamist leaders of the Strip can prevent attacks and are therefore responsible

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israelis sit outside their home near the site where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, on October 5, 2016. (Jack Guez/AFP)
Israelis sit outside their home near the site where a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit in the southern Israeli town of Sderot, on October 5, 2016. (Jack Guez/AFP)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday that while Israel does not want to spark a war with Hamas, it will answer every attack from the Gaza Strip with a “forceful response.”

Liberman was speaking specifically about rocket and mortar attacks that have struck Israeli territory in recent days. Israel has responded by striking Hamas military installations in the Strip.

“We are not looking for adventures and no one wants to push for escalation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip — however, we are determined to protect the safety of the citizens of the State of Israel, and on that point there will be no compromise,” Liberman said at a Tel Aviv event honoring outstanding officers and NCOs.

“All fire from Gaza into the sovereign land of the State of Israel will get a forceful response. Hamas rules the Strip with a firm hand and when it wants to get something or prevent something, it knows how to do that,” he said.

Police sappers dig out piece of a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip that struck a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Israel Police)
Police sappers dig out piece of a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip that struck a road in the southern city of Sderot on October 5, 2016. (Israel Police)

Earlier in the day, an IDF tank shelled a Hamas outpost in the southern Strip in response to a mortar shell fired at southern Israel earlier in the day. The shell landed in an open field in the Eshkol region, the army said.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot pose for a group picture at a ceremony for outstanding IDF officers on October 6, 2016 (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot pose for a group picture at a ceremony for outstanding IDF officers on October 6, 2016 (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Reports within the Gaza Strip also indicated that Israeli forces struck a site in central Gaza, east of the Bureij refugee camp, though that was not immediately confirmed by the IDF.

There were no immediate reports of Palestinian injuries.

On Wednesday, a rocket hit the southern Israeli town of Sderot and exploded in the middle of a street, causing some damage to the road, cars and nearby homes. Three people were hospitalized after suffering anxiety attacks.

A Palestinian woman checks a site that was hit by an Israeli air strike the previous day in Gaza City on October 6, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)
A Palestinian woman checks a site that was hit by an Israeli air strike the previous day in Gaza City on October 6, 2016. (AFP PHOTO / MOHAMMED ABED)

The Islamic State-affiliated Ahfad al-Sahaba-Aknaf Bayt al-Maqdis terrorist group took responsibility for Wednesday’s rocket launch. In a statement, the group said the attack on Sderot was a response to Hamas arresting several of its members.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Thursday’s mortar attack.

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